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WHO, UNFCCC promote maiden air pollution, health conference

The first-ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health will kick off on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. It is organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and with participation of UN Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Children exposed to air pollution. The WHO says that more than one in four deaths of children under five years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments

Air pollution is said to be one of the largest causes of death worldwide. It claims seven million lives a year, is a major driver of the non-communicable disease such as heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer and it accelerates climate change. Tackling it can help reduce health risks related to weather extremes, sea level rise, drought and food production.

Organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and with participation of UN Climate Change, the conference will centre on presenting evidence, identifying gaps and finding possible solutions such as affordable and clean urban transport, waste and household energy strategies.

In addition, there will be a High-Level Action Day focused on a plan of action, health system engagement and concrete commitments.

The conference is targeted at practitioners and other technical and political representatives from relevant sectors to the discussion such as health, environment and development, which are also the sectors that can lead the way to change.

Participants will include Ministers of Health and Environment and other national government representatives, representatives of intergovernmental agencies, health professionals, as well as research, academia and civil society representatives.

The conference will feature a “Call for Urgent Action” with agreement on a target for reducing air pollution, as a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Countries, urban mayors and civil society will be invited to make commitments to the global advocacy campaign www.BreathLife2030.org to reduce climate emissions and meet WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines – 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits.

In the event, cooperative initiatives will be taken forward between the WHO, the main organiser, and sister UN agencies like the secretariat of UN Climate Change (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC), UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Bank.

Grammy Winner and United Nations Humanitarian Artist, Ricky Kej, will perform a BreathLife special concert, “Healthy People, Healthy Planet”, to expand awareness about air pollution and critical health, climate and environment. The concert, free and open to the public, will be on October 31 in the host city of Geneva.

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